I have always said that the people that I am blessed to call my friends are truly the best people in the world, and right now I am so overwhelmed and humbled by just how true it is. I wish I had a forum that seemed more sincere than a blog or Facebook post to communicate just how appreciative of everyone who has committed time, energy, money, and prayers to trying to get Wooti home to the US with me. But the truth is, this means so much to me, there is no way I will ever be able to put my gratitude into words.
I can imagine it might seem unusual—or even selfish—to some to put so much energy into one dog in the midst of so many atrocities, so much hardship and suffering. But that’s precisely why helping this dog is so important. For those of us who come to work in the developing world (and for aid workers anywhere, for that matter), we are immersed in situations in which the level of need is literally unfathomable—both in its scope and magnitude. Every day I must walk past literally hundreds of people and animals who are malnourished, have inadequate shelter, extremely limited access to water, many with visible health ailments and no access to healthcare. Every day children approach me in tattered clothes, who have clearly not eaten a good meal in weeks, begging for money. Every day I see horses and donkeys being whipped and beaten, skin and bones hauling carts that are far too heavy for their physical condition. And, frankly, there isn’t anything I can do about it.
Now you all know, I am not about negativity—I believe in the power of positivity, optimism, and empowerment, and I believe that we all have a significantly greater impact than we realize, and that every person has the power to facilitate change. But the reality is that no single person can save the world, and that in order to begin the process and instigate change for the better, we must bear witness to atrocities which we cannot solve, and have faith that our actions will have an impact in the long term, even if the immediate results seem rather intangible and small compared to the scale of need. And in order to do this; in order to function amidst so much hardship, one must develop a certain tolerance for it—if you allow yourself to truly comprehend life experiences of everyone around you, it would be crippling. So just as a surgeon must form a certain detachment from his patient, when working in the developing world, you must numb yourself to those around you. And though doing this does make you grow stronger and work more effectively, it also suffocates a part of your soul; a piece of your humanity feels as though it has become frozen, shriveled up, and died off, when you realize you can look an impoverished person in the eye and not immediately break down into tears.
But every so often you have a personal connection, you encounter a situation in which you actually feel a solution is within your grasp—a tiny piece of the puzzle that you can actually put into place, a small bit of salvation that you can actually deliver. And for me, when Wooti came limping up to me, looked me in the eye, and silently pleaded for my help, this was one of those moments. Not only is this about Wooti; it is about hope. It is about that little piece of humanity, a small reminder that things can change, things can get better, that if we focus our help and time and energy, we can genuinely save a life—even if we have to do it one life at a time.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not yet ready to write a formal memoir of Wooti’s experience, because I am still so terrified that we will not be able to bring him back, and the thought of me abandoning him, allowing him returning to the streets after becoming so accustomed to a full belly, peaceful sleep, love, kisses, snuggling—every night we sleep forehead to forehead, and sometimes he wakes me up to give me kisses on my nose; he hates going outside, and loves the warmth and comfort of a home—well, this thought is simply more than I can handle right now. And along with the thought of not being able to help him, comes a mental flood of all of the terrible things I’ve been blocking out, first for him, then for everything else around me—the idea of him going back to the streets, to a cold world where he had to scrounge for every bite of food, the world where he was left with a gaping wound for over six weeks, where he will be mocked and kicked and called worthless because of his lost leg, and will live out the rest of his days sad and lonely. This, compounded with everything else here that I can’t help; it’s just too much for me to bear. (I actually started to cry just writing this…). I need to see a happy ending. And it is only because of your suppot that Wooti has any chance of salvation—with your gifts of time, energy, and money, you’ve given me hope, and him the possible chance at a good life—and those are greater gifts than you can ever imagine.
Right now, our biggest problem is the logistics—we barely have ten days to finalize his transport details, because if I can’t get him to the airport, no one will, so even if we were able to book a flight a few days later, it would be too late. Please continue to send your thoughts and prayers Wooti’s way—even if not for him, then for me. If we are able to help him, it is entirely because of the dedication and compassion that you all have shown for Wooti and for me, and for that, I will never be able to properly thank you. You all are my inspirations and I truly love each and every one of you.